Well this is it, the last day of the year and the decade. Weird. Hoping for good things for all of you in the new year. There will be some notable changes happening at Black Dog in 2020. Details will be made available when they are made clear to us. In the meantime, have a safe and fun New Year’s Eve no matter what you’re up to. Me? I’ll be at home with the family sipping bubbly and watching movies. Just like any other day (maybe not the bubbly part).
We’re starting to do our best of the year wrap up thingies. Becky and Josie have chimed in with theirs – check the bottom of this newsletter.
Big Little Lies Season 2 – What are these nice (mostly) rich ladies up to in season 2? Fighting crime? Solving global warming? Assassinating the President? Only one way to find out, I guess.
Joker – Might be the most controversial film of the year as some thought it would incite rioting in the streets or something. Relax, folks, it’s just a movie. I thought it was pretty good (some parts I did not like) and the kid who plays Joker was awesome.
Judy – Renee Zellweger is Judy Garland in this singing and sadness bio-pic.
Million Little Pieces – Dude does too many drugs and writes a book about the drugs which may be true or untrue. You decide!
Veep Season 7
Maleficent: Mistress of Evil
And as promised here’s Becky’s list!
10. Her Smell – I like movies where people have some sort of breakdown, and Her Smell delivers 100%. Elisabeth Moss plays a washed up punk singer who comes face to face with her addiction and mental health issues over time. Told in frenetic vignettes, we watch Becky Something hit rock bottom and crawl her way back up again hanging on to just a shred of her former fame.
9. Booksmart – As much as I love to be scared, I also love to laugh. Olivia Wilde’s Booksmart hit all the right notes as a comedy – raunchy but sweet, stupid but entertaining. Amy and Molly are two straight-A students who have one night left to party before college, so they make sure they go out with a bang. Watch two extremely likeable friends get into a bit of trouble and have the night of their lives.
8. The Lodge – This one’s a bit of a cheat since I saw it at VIFF and it doesn’t really hit theatres until February, but I loved it so it’s going on the list. Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala first made their mark in the horror genre in 2014 with Goodnight Mommy, an ambitious story about the darkness that can lurk within children. The Lodge takes it to the next level, telling the story of a soon-to-be stepmother spending Christmas in an isolated cabin with her fiance’s deeply imaginative children. I’ll just leave it at that.
7. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood – When it came out that Tarantino was doing a Manson retelling, people were largely divided. But, as Tarantino does, he created a pitch-perfect film that engages from beginning to brutal bloody end. What can I say? A stellar cast, fantastic music, engaging story, sharp writing… all things you can expect from this guy.
6. Honeyland – This moving documentary is about so much more than beekeeping. Come alongside Hatidze Muratovaj, a woman trying to make her way in Macedonia using ancient beekeeping practices. When a nomadic family becomes her neighbours, they begin to keep bees as well, but disregard her advice and simple way of living with devastating consequences. This story is told simply and beautifully, and every small moment feels important. Take a glimpse at a vanishing way of life while you can.
5. Midsommar – Ah, daylight folk horror. We don’t have enough of it. Ari Aster knows what makes people squirm (remember Hereditary?) and he brings it in full force with Midsommar. When a group of friends travel to Sweden for a festival that takes place every 90 years, they find themselves wrapped up in something a little more sinister than they expected. If you like The Wicker Man, check this one out.
4. Parasite – Nobody mashes genres together like Korean cinema, and Parasite is no exception. It features two families: one wealthy (the Parks), the other poor and scraping to get by (the Kims). One by one, the Kims scheme to become employed by the wealthier family and use up the resources of the household. At some points a black comedy, at others a thriller, Parasite takes chances and turns corners you might not expect.
3. Beach Bum – Every now and then you need to watch something that makes you feel like nothing on earth matters. Beach Bum is that movie. Matthew McConaughey (playing himself, I presume) is Moondog, a stoner poet farting around the Florida Keys working on his next novel at the demand of his wife. Surrounded by a motley crew of characters, watch him be an idiot and somehow make everything work out despite it all. At the end you might feel like your time has been wasted. But what is time, anyway, man?
2. Honey Boy – Wow. It’s been awhile since I’ve seen such an earnest (if messy) film. Shia LaBeouf brings all his childhood trauma to the screen with Honey Boy, a story that largely features his childhood relationship with his father, who is played by Shia himself. Anyone who remembers Even Stevens will recognize this period of his life, and many will be shocked by what went on in the background of his young fame. Boasting strong performances from every actor (how does Lucas Hedges sound exactly like LaBeouf?) this is a film for those who appreciate things outside of a standard narrative. Sometimes funny, but always moving, Honey Boy is a must-watch for fans and the curious.
1. The Lighthouse – The Lighthouse isn’t for everyone, but it tops my list far and above the rest. Robert Eggers first wowed me with The Witch, so I was excited to see his latest film and boy did it deliver. This one’s for the acting fans with Dafoe and Pattinson absolutely blowing it out of the water with their performances. It’s the 1890s and two lighthouse keepers find themselves stranded on an island due to a storm. As time passes their minds begin to unravel and they dance between friend and foe, sanity and insanity, life and death. It’s atmospheric and gorgeous as hell, written like a Greek tragedy, full of strangeness and discomfort. I can’t wait to see it again.
And Josie is up to bat next and her picks can be found on her Letterboxd site here!
That’s it for this week/year/decade folks. It’s been a wild ride. Here’s hoping you all have a swell evening and hope to see you in the stores!
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